Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Foret Des Dames. Part 4

A little hand

Came darting out from beneath its prow


And snatched at my ankle.


       I stumbled sideways,

Arms flailing, into the bulk

Of something spiky, twisted my ankle

And fell.


   The child was sitting crouched

In cotton pyjamas, her hair long,

Dark and un-cared for, her eyes brilliant

From lack of sleep.


       "Hello," she whispered,

"Come under here and talk."  She drew

Her knees up to her chin and patted

The earth beside her.  "It's nice to talk

To somebody real."


     "I'm real enough

But what about you?"


"O, I'm a witch‑

A good witch though‑" she reassured me.

"I come most nights.  It feels like home.

You never know quite what's going to happen;

That's half the fun.  This night for instance

I saw a man with a pointed stick

Chasing this really funny monster..."


I cut her short.  "I know," I said,

"I saw him too.  Perhaps you can tell me

How I get out of this wretched place."


She frowned.  "By getting off the path‑"

She seemed perplexed.  "Why, everyone knows

The paths in the forest go round in circles..."

She paused and raised an accusing eyebrow;

"I do suppose you know where you are?"


"Le Foret des Dames?"


She sniffed and shrugged,

"I've never heard it called that before.

Broceliande or a Wood near Athens or‑

I don't know‑ there's hundreds of names."

She brightened up. "And yours I suppose

Is as good as any.  O Look...."


         I turned.

A tall black woman with beads in her hair

Slid through a moonbeam.


       "One of your dreams,

I think," she said, "but smartened up

A bit by me."


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